The right call for America’s top consumer watchdog

CFPB | Public Domain

Photo by CFPB | Public Domain

In a 7-2 decision on May 16, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) funding mechanism.

We believe the Supreme Court made the right decision on the merits.

This decision allows the CFPB to continue its mission, protecting consumers from scams and abuses, keeping them informed and empowered as they navigate today’s marketplace, and holding companies accountable when they break the law.

After reckless practices on Wall Street and insufficient government oversight led to the Great Recession, PIRG leaders, most notably our longtime consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski, worked closely with then-professor Elizabeth Warren to turn our shared vision for an independent consumer watchdog into a real, effective federal agency.

PIRG and our Americans for Financial Reform coalition partners took care to ensure constitutionally sound and reliable capped annual funding from the Federal Reserve, instead of yearly congressional appropriations, for the CFPB in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that established it.

As a result, the CFPB has consistently delivered, returning more than $20 billion over nearly 13 years to consumers who’ve been wronged. The CFPB has taken action on overly punitive overdraft fees, non-transparent Buy Now, Pay Later products, hidden junk fees, unfair medical debt reporting, and other financial industry practices.

Now that the Supreme Court has settled this matter, we look forward to celebrating the agency’s 13th birthday in July – and to the peace of mind we all can enjoy as we make financial decisions, knowing we’ve got the CFPB in our corner.


Douglas H. Phelps

President and Executive Director, The Public Interest Network

Doug is President and Executive Director of The Public Interest Network. As director of MASSPIRG starting in 1979, he conceived and helped organize the Fund for the Public Interest, U.S. PIRG, National Environmental Law Center, Green Century Capital Management, Green Corps and Environment America, among other groups. Doug ran the public interest careers program at the Harvard Law School from 1976-1986. He is a graduate of Colorado State University and the Harvard Law School.